The Beginning and End of Class
Two important moments during instruction are the beginning and end of class. The events
that occur during these windows can influence the engagement of students in their
learning as well as their ability to synthesize major concepts.
Learning Student Names and Pronouns
Learning student names and pronouns can be one of the most effective ways to establish
a productive classroom environment. It can build classroom community, increase student
engagement, make students more comfortable seeking help, and increase student satisfaction
with a course. While instructors can feel like learning student names and pronouns
takes valuable time away from class, its benefits to student learning are greater
than covering more content.
Classroom Seating Arrangements
The physical setup of chairs, tables, and seating in a classroom can significantly
influence learning. Instructional communication theory suggests that the seating arrangement
can impact how the instructor communicates with students and how the students interact
with one another, impacting engagement, motivation, and focus.
Active Learning Classrooms
Active learning classrooms (ALCs) are spaces configured to maximize active, collaborative
learning and multimodal teaching. Research suggests that teaching in an ALC can improve
student attitudes, conceptual understanding, and passing rates, especially for female
and minority students. Yale features several reservable ALCs, including the TEAL and
classroom space in the CTL.
The Art of Teaching
Teaching thrums with a million threads of impression, expectation, feeling, and narrative
construction for which teachers cannot plan. Holding these threads together like a
loom constantly at work as new material is fed through, the teacher’s unique identity
as artist balances, coordinates, and creates the learning environment.
Links for Classroom Policies and Expected Behaviors
Classroom policies regarding technology, academic honesty, and behavior help students
form initial impressions of the tone and expectations for a course. Research into
the impressions of classroom policy on students is ongoing, but suggests that students
perceive instructors to have significant control over the fairness of classroom policies.
Instructors can meet that expectation by crafting policies for behavior that maximize
student focus, inclusivity, and fairness.
Flexible Structures in Course Design
While flexibility can be critically important for equitable and inclusive teaching,
it also needs to be balanced with simple, coherent expectations and course structure.
Here are some considerations for thinking about ways to create both flexibility and
structure to support student learning, while keeping your workload manageable.
Developing Admission Criteria for Oversubscribed Limited-enrollment Courses
Yale instructors occasionally experience unexpectedly large numbers of students seeking
admittance to their limited-enrollment courses. This brief guide will help you develop
course admission criteria and communicate them to your students.
Well-being as a Pedagogical Priority
Many Yale students managed to learn and thrive during the pandemic because faculty
were attentive to their well-being, showed heightened compassion, and acknowledged
the many challenges they faced. Although specific methods may evolve as classrooms
return to in-person teaching, we strongly encourage instructors to continue to prioritize
student well-being – and their own. Following are suggestions and resources to support
this valuable work.
Developing a Pre-Course Survey
Distributing a pre-course survey will help instructors get to know their students
and get a sense of the class before the first day. Open-ended questions often elicit
valuable information about student identity as it relates to the course, and allow
students to choose if, and how much, to share. One method to protect anonymity is
to distribute index cards on which students may write their answers.